It has been an exciting week for paid sick days! In just a few days, thousands of workers in two New Jersey cities won new paid sick days protections that will mean they face fewer hard choices between job and family when the flu strikes or a feverish child needs care. This is great news for these workers and their families and communities.
Yesterday, Elizabeth, New Jersey, became the 10th city in the state to pass a paid sick days law. Eighty-four percent of voters approved a ballot measure championed by a strong coalition of workers and advocates.* This victory means that more than 25,000 workers in the city will soon be guaranteed the right to earn paid sick time.
And last week, the Jersey City Council voted to expand the city’s paid sick days law. This move will extend access to thousands more workers. The original law, which passed in 2013 and was the first paid sick days law in the state, only covered workers in businesses with 10 or more employees and guaranteed unpaid time to all others.
It’s great to see workers in New Jersey’s urban areas are gaining access to paid sick days, but hundreds of thousands of workers in the state still cannot earn a single paid sick day. It is past time to ensure all New Jersey workers have the same protections. Fortunately, a bill to establish a statewide standard is already pending – and advocates are committed to making it law.
“This vote [in Elizabeth] is a sign that New Jersey voters believe paid sick days should be a basic right, and it’s a clear call to action for elected leaders in Trenton,” said Analilia Mejia, director of New Jersey Working Families. “This train won’t stop until lawmakers in Trenton enact a statewide law that ensures getting sick never means getting fired in the state of New Jersey.”
Despite progress in New Jersey cities and in other cities and states across the nation, more than 43 million workers across the country still cannot earn paid sick days. The federal Healthy Families Act, which has been introduced in Congress, would ensure that all workers can earn the paid sick days they need – no matter where they live. It should be a priority.
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*New Jersey’s paid sick days coalition members include New Jersey Working Families, New Jersey Citizen Action, the New Jersey Time to Care Coalition, the New Jersey Main Street Alliance, BlueWave NJ, SEIU 32BJ, NJEA and CWA District 1.